By Melissa Hohaia, Naturopath – You are sick of the image you see in the mirror.
You are disgusted by the way that your clothes are fitting.
You NEED to do something about it, and pronto – but you know that you have been here before and you just aren’t sure you know what to do this time around.
I am here to warn you of the MISTAKES that I see so many women make on a daily basis when it comes to weight loss.
It can be so easy to fall back into old habits or completely dive deep into previous weight loss approaches. Most of us associate losing weight with short term hard work and deprivation – but I’m going to tell you that this is the worst approach to losing weight that you could have. You may achieve some quick results and feel great about yourself for a few weeks (or months if you are lucky), but in the long run you will be back to where you started in no time with that old approach.
What I need you to do is stop the vicious cycle of intense self-control, then self-sabotage, closely followed by self-destruction and returning weight gain – I dare you to start this next attempt at losing weight by adopting some uncomfortably new approaches and I promise you that the long-term outcome will change for the better.
Be patient and maintain your focus on the end game…trust and believe that you will one day look in the mirror and be proud of what you see…
Here are the ‘Top FIVE Weight Loss Mistakes’ that you need to stop making:
1. DEPRIVING YOURSELF OF FOOD
So, you know that you have been overloading your plate at dinner and you know that your late-night snacking is the cause of a few extra kilos on the scale. What is your first response? Stop eating so much?
Seems like a no-brainer, but this could actually be dramatically working against your weight loss attempts.
For many years now, research has shown us that the human body is the master at maintaining its ‘set point’. The same way that your body is set up to maintain a core body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, it is also set up to maintain your body weight as close to it’s ‘normal’ as possible. If your set point is deviated from (for example if you lose a few kilos drastically) than your body will work very hard to make sure that it returns to the set point as quickly as possible. So, dramatically reducing your food intake to lose weight will never work – your body will sense the deprivation and then set about making sure that it alters your internal running’s (metabolic rate) to ensure that your weight doesn’t continue to drop too far from its set point.
I often see people who have previously achieved great initial results from drastically dropping their calories (often using the services of some well-known weight loss companies), but they found out all too soon that they had to continually cut calories to keep seeing results. Often, they have gotten to the point where they are ingesting so little calories and no longer seeing results. This then results in feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, so they return to previous eating habits and then are overwhelmed by the rate at which the weight just piles back on (often more than they started with).
The better approach…
Instead of focusing on dropping your portions, turn your attention to the ‘types’ of food that you are filling your plate with or snacking on. Aim to see at least 2/3rds of your plate covered with vegetables (a total of 6-9 handfuls per day) and ensure you have a palm sized serve of good quality protein at each meal. You should never feel hungry – use foods high in fibre (such as green leafy vegetables) to fill you up and curb any ‘empty’ sensations.
2. OVER EXERCISING
It can be a big source of guilt. If you know that you aren’t moving your body enough it can be tempting to throw yourself into vigorous exercise routines and sweat-away-the-kilos! With all the messages of ‘go hard or go home’ circulating, it can be tempting to feel like you just need to workout harder and do more to reach you weigh loss goals.
What if I told you that you are able to achieve your goals with minimal exercise? Would you call me crazy!?!
Your body is designed to move – I’m not denying that – but it is better suited to sustained incidental movement, not intense body punishing work-outs. You are better off increasing your activity level by going for more walks, taking the stairs, opting for bike rides on the weekend, swims at the beach, or sporting games with friends.
Intense exercise is a source of stress and for many of us living in this modern world, stress is not something we need more of! Often the women I see in clinic are struggling with unhealthy stress responses anyway and sometimes intense exercise can actually be causing their bodies to resist any weight loss.
There are so many situations that I have worked with clients who were engaging in hour-long-heart-rate-rising exercise sessions up to seven days a week, only to find that when they pulled it back, they achieved better weight loss results. It can feel counter-intuitive, but I need you to trust me on this one!
The better approach…
Do any form of movement that you enjoy or ‘lights you up’ – this will serve as an oasis of release and timeout from the daily hustle. Move your body gently and compassionately – do what feels good and banish any guilt associated with not ‘going hard enough in the gym’!
Don’t forget to breathe!
3. GRASPING FOR THE QUICKEST FIX
There are so many promised ways to lose weight out there (it can be overwhelming). There are various companies marketing different programs, and then different sources that reassure you that THEY have the real solution. You could even argue that I am just another one of those sources! (I promise you I am different though!) The fact that you are reading this blog means that you have probably already explored options of weight loss extensively.
One of the big traps I see many women fall into, is a desperate ‘grasping’ at a swift ‘solution’…they are looking for the ‘quick fix’ and the easiest way to reach their goals in the quickest time possible. Unfortunately, I am going to tell you that the fairy-tale solution is a unicorn (it doesn’t exist). There is NO easy way to achieve long-term weight loss, and it takes a firm focus on your goals/motivations and a change in your choices permanently. You have to be prepared to live the life of different choices.
If you are one of those women who feel like you have tried everything and still don’t see the results, then it may be an even longer and more challenging journey to adjust and restore imbalances that are driving your weight gain. You just need the right support – not a band aid!
The better approach…
Discover the true reasons behind your weight issues, and get a plan that works for you long-term. Be prepared to lose the weight gradually, and truly embrace the changes that need to be made to make this happen. Resist the temptation to employ more drastic approaches that will result in a quick loss but set you up for re-bound weight gain and poor health.
4. SELF SABOTAGING
So often I see women sabotage themselves when it comes to achieving what they convince themselves they want. They will start out with the best intentions and focus, only to be de-railed by themselves at the first bump in the road or challenge.
That emotional eating that makes you feel nurtured can result in feelings of guilt, that then turns into more emotional eating!
One little choice that isn’t aligned with your goals can result in an internal dialogue of…“oh well, I’ve messed it up now – might as well keep going!” All that you really need is to turn things around and re-focus on the ‘why’…don’t go and ignore all the great things you have chosen just because of one deviation…stop self-sabotaging yourself NOW!
The better approach…
Seek to start a new internal dialogue and celebrate the wins. Identify your red flags and set up new habits that are going to encourage you to turn things around in a positive way and pull you away from any self-sabotaging behaviour.
Truly discover your motivations to losing weight and surround yourself with reminders of why you need/want to live in a lighter, healthier body. Some of my clients with the most amazing success stories have been able to achieve their results because they knew exactly what was motivating them and they could visualise it way before they achieved it.
5. GOING AT IT ALONE
I meet so many women who are ashamed and embarrassed by their weight loss attempts – they hate the thought of anyone knowing that they are embarking on an effort to lose weight and therefore they do it in secrecy. They cringe at the judgement and criticism that they may receive if they are unsuccessful. Often, they are also worried about people trying to ‘de-rail’ their efforts or lead them astray.
A better approach…
Permanently losing weight requires a ‘forever’ change and often when you recruit the appropriate support it becomes an easier process. Finding the right guidance can help you avoid the endless searching for the right solution, which is fundamental as it can be very disheartening to feel like you are continually trying and then trying again. You need to explore if there are underlying reasons as to why you are putting on those extra kilos and put your energy into correcting the right areas.
It is also worth considering recruiting a ‘cheer squad’ – one or more people that you know will encourage and celebrate your successes, or finding a ‘loser buddy’ – someone who is on the same journey that you can share the experience with.
Don’t be ashamed to share – you never know who you might inspire along the way!